As a public university graduate and the proud dad of a Penn State alum, what’s not to like about the Wall Street Journal survey published Monday that said corporate recuiters prefer graduates of top public universities over those from the Ivies and big-name liberal arts schools.
Recruiters said graduates of selective public universities, with Penn State on the top of the list, are better prepared and well-rounded academically and fit better into corporate cultures.
At a time of high unemployment and economic anxiety, what an endorsement for universities that have traditionally stood as the gateway for children of the middle class to productive careers and lives.
The survey pointed to two attributes that separate these schools from the more intellectually elite Ivies: They teach practical skills and they have big student populations from which to recruit. But, in thinking it through, there is another important quality of these schools that prepare young people to work in a modern corporate environment.
Success, indeed survival, at a big public university requires the development of excellent communications skills.
Academic demands at a place like Penn State get mixed with equally strong social demands: Identify a niche, find a group that you can work and live with effectively for four years. Adapting to university life at one of these places is not unlike fitting into a large company. You need the same sort of problem-solving and socialization skills to become happy and productive at GE, IBM or Google, as you do on these campuses. And, the foundations of problem-solving and socialization, of course, are sophisticated communications skills.
Especially in an age when corporate success relies so heavily on effective team performance and when the ability to understand and navigate the traps of corporate social structures are so critical, what better place to learn those skills than burgeoning college towns like State College, PA; Ann Arbor, MI; or College Station, TX. The hot-house environment of the Ivy League just doesn’t prepare kids for the harsh environment of corporate life in the same way.
“We are . . . Penn State.”
“Hail to the Victors Valiant.”
“Gig ’em, Aggies.”
Corporate America needs you all.
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